My first weeks at the place of work mainly involved familiarization with the employees, onboarding, and mandatory training. During this period, I was introduced to employees in the Detroit regional office. The most significant challenge was understanding the various teams working in the office, their roles and responsibilities and their organization towards GSAs mission. The senior project managers frequently came over to ask how I was doing and offered help. They even offered to tag me along with them on their project site visits. It was an excellent change of pace from online training in the office.
One of my first visits was with Doug Sanford, a Senior Project Manager, to the Blue Water Bridge Facility in Port Huron, MI. The project was to install an exhaust fan in FDAs LAN room at the facility to prevent the place from overheating in case the cooling unit fails or trips offline. We had a gPM initiation meeting at the site that involved the agency POC and the Contracting Officer. I wasnt familiar with the process by then, but it was an impressive sneak view of how Project Managers managed smaller projects.
I got to visit a few other buildings in the Detroit area, Battle Creek, and Ann Arbor tagging along with Project Managers on one of their small project meetings. These started to get me familiar with the region, give me a better sense of what my role was going to be like and what the projects were going to be like.
In the meanwhile, I used to see these organizational emails about changes in the RWA process, references to various terms and forms. I wasnt familiar with a lot of the words and the procedures, but I was confident it was just a matter of time, having been assigned a coach. Rachel Pellegrini, my coach, has been very helpful with my onboarding, especially giving me a background on the systems, processes and typical issues in projects.
Phil Ramos was the first expect I met who was working at GSA. Hs area of specialization was environmental policies. During the time we interacted, he trained us on how to handle hazardous materials and on the facts about what happened in the GSA building. The dangerous materials of consideration were Asbestos and lead-based paints which were frequently used during the renovation of any space as they had potential risk to life. Phil Ramos focused on how the two materials Asbestos and Lead are hazardous and his team must identify and report any form of hazards that may cause risk of exposure. The national emission standards for harmful air pollutants (NESHAP) provide that pre-alteration assessment is a compulsory standard.
The SCOD Project Management Team meeting was scheduled to take place in Chicago, and I had an opportunity to be part of the team. I got introduced to the COR Handbook during the meeting, and I later signed up for the Green Procurement session. This was an opportunity to understand the language used for contractor reporting and waste diversion in EPM. My further interaction with other people gave me an opportunity to seek clarification about FAS and EBS.
On May 2-4 I got an opportunity to participate in GSA New Employee Orientation that was sponsored by Donald Padrnos. An orientation of PBS Boot Camp helped to introduce all the present Project Managers to the job of managing facilities and structures as performed by GSA. The understanding of the processes of how to fund strings during the procurement was part of the lessons learned. I learned about the benefits of this funding process during acquisition on the outline of agencies reimbursable work authorization (RWA). The meeting was also graced by Bob Theel, the Chief Architect for Project Program Division who gave a presentation at the conference concerning the federal building in downtown Chicago. The needs of Chicago about the design was explained by Bob.
Technical Knowledge and Assignments
Below is a list of projects I have been assigned so far:
Carpet Replacement GSA, Ann Arbor, MI
ADA Push Buttons Replacement ODAR Office, East Lansing, MI
CCTV Camera Replacement ODAR Office, East Lansing, MI
Plaza Repairs GSA, Detroit, MI
Barriers Upgrade GSA, Detroit, MI
Building 5 Tunnel and Wall Stabilization GSA, Battle Creek, MI
Accent Wall and Doors Painting USPTO, Detroit, MI
Door Operators Installation DCMA, Sterling Heights, MI
Garage Trench Drain Repairs GSA, Detroit, MI
Paint Exterior Soffit GSA, Detroit, MI
Cut-in throughway 18th floor ICE, Detroit, MI
In the first week of March, I was assigned my first project as a Project Manager. This was a painting and carpet replacement project at the Ann Arbor Federal Building. With help from my coach, team lead and the basics I learned from the gPM and EASi training, I quickly identified all the stakeholders in the project and scheduled a site visit along with the Property Manager and my coach. Later, I planned a kickoff meeting with my Team Lead, Coach, the Property Manager, and the Contracting Officer. We discussed the requirements that I gathered from the site visit and made sure the scope was complete and that I wasnt missing anything. Then, we moved on to Solicitation. The contracting officer explained the type of solicitation for this project, and we discussed any preferred contractors in the area with an excellent past working experience. Then, we reviewed a rough timeline for the technical documents to be prepared, procurement request submittal, the COs schedule and when he could do the solicitation and came up with a draft performance period. We then discussed the next steps and adjourned the meeting.
I used AutoCAD to mark up the drawings where the carpet would be replaced and the hallways painted. I wrote a scope of work document detailing the building information, work summary, material compliance requirements, submittals required, qualifications and general conditions. I then came up with a government cost estimate based on the complete scope.
My coach and team leaders were beneficial in demonstrating as well as reviewing every step since it was my first project. This gave me a good understanding of the tools, procedures, and forms I need to use as the project makes its way from customer request to the technical, procurement teams into construction. I think there is still a lot to learn, but I keep getting better with every project that I am working on currently. I have worked hard to establish quality communication with my customers. Through regular meetings, e-mail updates, and general open discussion, the customers are kept informed, which plays a crucial role in their satisfaction in a project.
The values of the well-written scope of work (SOW) and the effect on the aspects of the project is the most important lesson I learned. The need to have a supervisor who looks at the shortcomings of any project plans was considered to be the most crucial concern. I realized that the differences between the government cost estimate and contractor's proposal of a project necessitated the needed for review of the process of the project planning by first looking at the SOW. The needs of projects such as meeting 6% of the design fee limitation in the case of A/E required projects. Other important considerations include the contractor ability to consider the time constraints for other secondary work elements enhancing the project
It has been my observation that having an initial site visit to gather requirements and a basic cost estimate done before the kickoff/initiation meeting done helps a lot and saves time if the estimate is going to be over the budget limit. Also, the projects I work on seem to cover a large variety of specialties from carpet replacement, to painting, to electrical installations, to concrete repairs. I think having a list of projects performed at a building with the project specialty, the contractor used and contractor details would be very helpful. I will be working on this list very soon.
Relationship Management: Understanding the organizational culture and lay of the land was the big focus of my first few months. The challenge was to adapt to working styles of different people. I have learned that communication is key and the bridge between two people with different working styles.
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